Is Artificial Intelligence the End of Marketing Content Writing?
Artificial intelligence is all the talk right now, especially in the creative space. Digital artists are voicing their concerns, and the Screen Actors Guild has expressed great interest in joining forces with the Writers Guild of America, which is currently on strike and requesting that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers prohibit AI from writing and rewriting any materials. For screenwriters, authors, journalists, and marketing copywriters alike, AI is becoming a nagging voice in the back of our heads. Will it replace our jobs? Are we losing an art form? Is Skynet coming for us next?
AI is fast and cost-effective on the exterior. It analyzes data, distinguishes patterns, and creates words on a page quicker than any human could. Who wants to deal with a copywriter with writer's block and a hefty salary when you can type a few words into a content generator and get a 500-word blog? However, the truth is that AI has some real drawbacks, especially in content, and relying solely on AI deprives the writer and audience of the best experience.
The human touch
Henry David Thoreau wisely observed, "It's pointless to sit down and write without truly experiencing life." Whether we're engrossed in a touching personal story, an irresistible recipe for grandma's chili, or a professional email, humans write and read from a place of emotion. We all long for that human connection. We want to feel like we are going through something together. And let's face it, AI platforms may promise to create that connection, but without the human experience to back it up, the result is often lackluster.
For marketing writers, a personal touch carries a certain weight because we are not writing in our own voice, but in the voice of our clients. This is especially true for heavier subject matters. Artificial intelligence may convey emotion in a linear sense; however, when people genuinely need a connection and receive a computer-generated message in a time of crisis instead, there is always backlash.
Content still needs editing
Perfection is rare when experimenting with AI. There is always room for improvement, from fixing missing punctuation to correcting misspelled words. Additionally, the initial content often needs to be expanded upon as part of the AI experience often condenses the original text and can be redundant, confusing, or missing details.
Moreover, AI tools are not entirely credible. This technology only utilizes information that lives online, therefore increasing the threat of plagiarism, bias, and non-compliance - making fact-checking a must. Businesses and organizations must protect their reputation. Sharing false content and stealing from others will only have negative repercussions.
Lastly, a well-built brand will have a cohesive voice across all channels, and AI often needs to catch up on these details. Yes, there are tools to copy existing content's style; however, it is easy to miss and incorporate the little nuances that make a business stand out, like a company's positioning, benefits, mission, and values. More often than not, if an organization has these guidelines, a lot of time and money went into establishing them, making using AI a waste of resources instead of an asset.
Repercussions for SEO are unknown
The entire purpose of marketing content writing is to generate an audience; when it comes to being noticed, Google still ranks supreme. Google has recently released updated guidance concerning AI-generated content and states that they focus on the "quality of content, rather than how content is produced." However, while they don't prohibit AI, its ranking system aims to "reward original, high-quality content that demonstrates qualities of expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness."
It leaves some room for interpretation, but one thing is made clear - using AI to develop content to influence rankings in search results is a violation of Google's spam policies. Furthermore, quality and originality are issues that Google has been monitoring for years, and they have solid tools in place to determine if content is helpful and reliable.
There have yet to be extensive studies on AI and its impact on SEO. Still, some early tests have shown that with an AI-generated article, impressions did not grow, even on a healthy website that was not flagged by Google as of the publish date. The belief is that websites that consistently post AI content will eventually be recognized and penalized.
Where is the creativity?
AI works because it repeats and repurposes what it has been given. The formula is rather predictable. Creativity is not born from copying and pasting, but from ideas and experiences. This is evident in consumers' frustrations with movie sequels, prequels, and everything in between. Hollywood makes these movies because it's easier than coming up with new characters and plot points, but ticket buyers are increasingly getting bored of old ideas. The same can be said of really any type of content. People want something unique, not recycled. And the more AI is utilized, the more obvious it will be that creativity cannot be computer generated.
True creativity doesn't stem from mere copying and pasting. It thrives on fresh ideas and unique experiences. Just look at the frustration consumers have with movie sequels, prequels, and everything in between. Hollywood churns out these films as an easy way to avoid creating new characters and plots, but ticket buyers are growing tired of recycled concepts. This desire for novelty extends to all forms of content. People crave something new, not something regurgitated. And as AI becomes more prevalent, it becomes increasingly clear that true creativity cannot be generated by computers.
Wait, did that last paragraph sound repetitive? That is because I used AI to recreate and "improve" what I already wrote, and really, it pretty much sounded the same. Weird.
AI for writers isn't all bad
Now that we have explored what AI isn't, we should discuss what AI is. There are ways that writers can use it to their advantage and still produce creative and original work. For example, AI can be used to:
Generate new topics for blogs or articles
Create rough first drafts using prompts
Produce outlines from existing content
Repurpose existing content for social media
Writing, like everything else, evolves
Most writers no longer use typewriters or do their research scouring microfiche at the local library. And I think we can all agree that's ok. Technology exists to move people forward. If creatives take advantage of using AI as a tool and not thinking of it as a replacement, it becomes more evident that the best way to incorporate AI into the workflow is by using it to fill in the gaps. Getting in front of it and finding new ways to add value for our clients will set writers apart from proofreaders.
How to Promote Your Virtual or Hybrid Event with Content Marketing
Virtual and hybrid events (those located in a physical venue with in-person attendees while also available to an online audience) are here to stay. According to Bizzabo's Evolution of Events Report, 97% of respondents expect to see more hybrid experiences moving forward. Fewer travel expenses, less time away from the office, and pandemic-safe meeting conditions have made these events an essential aspect of business growth.
While these factors can save companies time and money, virtual and hybrid events are not without challenges. As attendees are not always in-person and often juggling other responsibilities, some circumstances can result in lackluster participation and limited connectivity. While they are less costly to organize and participate in than all-live experiences, they are increasingly becoming more competitive and saturated. Lastly, as content is often distributed before, during, and after the event, these encounters aren't just a fleeting moment of engagement but a permanent message from your brand. What you say matters more than ever.
Whether you are hosting a virtual or hybrid event or participating as a vendor, a different level of communication is required to be engaging, relevant, and insightful. Keeping your audience informed through multi-channel content campaigns such as blogs, email, social media, newsletters, digital marketing, and more is the most powerful way to promote event turnout, increase audience involvement, and improve the attendee's experience.
First, you must understand the audience.
In all things marketing, there is a target audience. However, with a virtual or hybrid event, their needs may not be so cut and dry. Businesses should look beyond what a typical potential customer may want and define why a hybrid or purely online experience appeals to that particular individual. Their specific needs may determine what information you need to provide and when. For example, according to Markletic, 80% of people join virtual events for educational purposes (followed by networking), while those attending in-person are perhaps looking to take a deep dive into new products. Identifying why they choose to participate in-person vs. not will define the remainder of your content marketing strategy.
Next, determine your value proposition.
Let your target audience know why you decided to host or participate in this particular event. What makes it unique? How will it benefit them to attend? Is this experience created to inform, unveil new products, or network? Your audience needs to know why there is enough value for them to give you time out of their day. However, while a traditional value proposition may highlight what makes the event unique or what makes you different from your competitors, it also needs to identify the pain points of a potential customer. Today, these pain points may go beyond product features and be the target audience's specific concerns, fears, and safety interests. Tailoring your value proposition to meet those requirements will reach more targets.
It would help if you thought about video.
Video is the next best thing to being in person. It brings the human element into the event and lets your audience know what kind of experience they will be having. A video can be anything from a pre-event Q&A with company leaders to a quirky and fun "meet the team" production to a welcome video before the next presentation.
Find a way to start generating buzz.
Is there a big reveal coming? Hinting at a new product launch, hosting a countdown, or creating a sweepstakes campaign can combat the FOMO that virtual attendees may be experiencing. Share something your target audience can only see if they tune in. A downloadable presentation or email marketing campaign are easy ways to get the word out and generate some much-needed buzz.
Just don't forget about social media.
A considerable part of your event marketing campaign should be social media. Social media builds a community, from posts promoting giveaways to speaker announcements to hashtags used throughout the event. Social media is not only a valuable tool for sharing information, but it can be a way to help virtual attendees feel more involved. Offering online participants a channel to network and interact, for example, through Facebook Events or Instagram Stories, further promotes engagement.
Now is the time to get creative.
Challenges force marketers to think of new approaches, and while in-person events were the norm pre-pandemic, shifting our mindset has generated some impressive ideas. Surprise home deliveries such as cocktail kits for an onscreen cocktail-making lesson, game-like virtual world platforms, and online concerts are just some of the ways businesses have brought real-world experiences into the home office.
Events are created to be a personal experience. Whether online or in-person or both, these are unique encounters that can be incredibly relevant and rewarding if managed correctly. You can make all attendees feel connected, valued, and well-informed by delivering the right marketing content.
Short-Form vs. Long-Form Content: Which to Use and Why
As a content writer, I am often asked if word count matters. The short answer is yes; of course it matters, but choosing long-form or short-form content should not focus solely on the number of words on the page. Instead, the focus should be on creating pieces that work collectively to get the message across effectively.
First, let’s define the difference between short-form and long-form content. Short-form content is usually between 400 to 600 words, can be read in less than five minutes, and doesn’t require extensive thought. Examples include shorter blogs, social media posts, news articles, emails, infographics, and punchy websites.
While the exact word count is sometimes debated, long-form content is more than 1,500 words — pieces such as whitepapers, e-books, guides, resources, videos, and webinars. The copy aims to be informative, insightful, and gives the reader a deeper dive into the company’s message.
The popularity of short-form content
There has been a trend towards short-form content in the last several years, mainly because it is more mobile-friendly and doesn’t require a long attention span. Busy readers can scan through the text quickly instead of dissecting in-depth information. It also looks more modern online, as long-form content has often been replaced with big graphics and pithy headlines.
This type of content is reasonably fast for marketers to create and allows them to get information out quickly and efficiently. Short-form is about keeping it simple for the creator and the reader. One of the best examples of effective short-form content is social media posts. Social media isn’t expected to keep a user’s attention for long, but it is that quick, repetitive exposure that gets the message across. With short-form content, a company can express itself with only a few words. It is a powerful strategy when connecting with new prospects and engaging with your audience.
The case for long-form content
There are several reasons that long-form content is still an imperative component of an overall marketing plan. First, Google ranks long-form pieces over short-form. This is because long-form content keeps the reader on the page longer, search queries want pages covering a subject extensively, and longer copy means more keywords.
Second, long-form content is shared more than short-form pieces. A report from HuffPost stated that articles with 3,000 to 10,000-word counts receive the most average shares. Why is this? Perhaps it is because people really do crave reading something intellectually challenging. While it is fun to share an amusing meme or a funny video, they rarely include content with a wealth of information.
Long-form content is essential, but fewer companies are doing it. Many organizations don’t have the time to create an in-depth, well-researched article; however, if it becomes a priority (and hiring a freelancer is an option to handle your long-form content needs), it gives your business a chance to stand out. Simply put, there is just less competition, and in turn, it is easier to be noticed and taken seriously.
The last and perhaps most compelling reason to create long-form content is that it is ideal for reaching a highly invested audience. If someone is taking the time to read and share a 1,500-word document, they have a genuine interest in your business. It is the perfect opportunity to share valuable information while positioning yourself and your organization as thought-leaders in your industry.
Both have downsides
Short-form and long-form content both have a lot of pluses, but they also have some challenges. Short-form can become too trivial and end up not saying anything of importance at all. It can shift to being repetitive and formulaic, boring your audience. Furthermore, short-form is often not evergreen, and interest will wane over time.
On the other hand, long-form has to stay interesting throughout to overcome short attention spans. It also takes longer to produce and is often resource-intensive. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it, as the return on investment can be exceptional, especially if the topics picked are evergreen - content that remains relevant for years to come.
A perfect content combo
Only utilizing short-form content will result in missed opportunities to inform. Only having long-form content will result in missed opportunities for connection. The trick is to do both. When your content strategy includes short-form consistently, with a few long-form pieces sprinkled in, your audience will see you as a market leader that regularly produces content that educates, informs, and helps them make decisions.
Why Customizable Content Should Be Part of Your Campaign
It is Friday night, and the entire family gathers around the TV to watch their favorite TGIF show. There are only a few channels to choose from, no remote control, no way to fast-forward commercials, and no other digital distractions. Advertisers have full access to a captive audience, and the ratings race reigns supreme.
That was reality thirty years ago, but times have most certainly changed. No longer does a family watch the same TV together on a regular basis, smartphones and social media have taken over attention spans, and the number of networks multiplies every day. Millennials don’t know a world without technology and ad clutter, and names like Google, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and even Facebook are vying for their share of TV ad budgets.
In the 80s, top shows had Nielson ratings in the 30s. That has dropped to a 9 for even the most popular programs. Today, Viewership is based on personal convenience rather than programming schedules, and with intelligent devices, advertising is happening all the time, everywhere.
Personalization of Advertising
Therefore, addressable advertising, ads that are delivered to the right person at the right time, through emerging media is gaining momentum. In 2016, addressable TV ad spends grew to $890 million, up from $400 million the year before. Cable operators are quickly improving their technology to deliver these campaigns, with around 50 million set-top boxes currently enabled for addressable advertising.
Beyond targeting by age, gender, and geography, addressable advertising and emerging media have several key benefits for both individuals and advertisers, including:
Value-Added Relevance – Instead of a one size fits all mentality, ads can be customized based on demographics, psychographics, and buying patterns. Even more personalized are advertisements shown on smart devices, as that specific person’s interests are highlighted.
Improved Engagement- Because relevance is increased, so is engagement as the creative aspects of a campaign have been tailored to the target audience. In return, it is easier to measure which ads viewers watch, skip, like, or share with their connections through emerging media buys.
Frequency Management – Advertisers want their ad to be seen as many times as possible to induce a reaction, but it has always been challenging to measure if the customer is seeing the ad, or just sick of it. Addressable advertising uses creative sequencing to determine if the ads are making an impression, or if the campaign needs to be tweaked.
Platform Sharing - Addressable advertising spans across almost every form of media that has a screen. A potential customer may search for something online, which then is reinforced by a TV ad, and then pops up as a link on their smartphone.
Measurable Results - Smart set-top boxes and devices are using software development kits (SDKs) that gather precise metrics such as ad start times, video quartiles, viewability, brand lift data, and census-based impressions, allowing advertisers to make informed decisions about their campaigns.
Traditional Advertising Has Advantages, Too
Established media like radio, print, and television still have benefits. If a product or service is more targeted to Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, then traditional media may be more effective. Television does, in fact, reach the most people and, according to the Nielsen, State of the Media report, conventional TV reaches 89% of adults every day.
Blending Traditional and Emerging Media
Campaigns that want to reach the most audience segments can combine established avenues with addressable advertising, with any size campaign. In fact, many emerging media aspects are designed to integrate with traditional media and work together to make the biggest impact. Mobile applications are now tied to broadcast media, delivering data on engagement and click-throughs. Companion applications provide extended content, allowing audiences to use their smart device either as a TV or as a secondary screen while watching regular TV. And, technology based on mapping, or geo-targeting, directly correlates location, interests, and sales when determining an advertising message.
Addressable advertising generates value for everyone involved. By empowering marketers to reach distinct targets, it encourages consumers to have a genuine experience with commercials that are more compelling and appropriate for them; therefore, developing substantial connections between viewers and brands.
And, this is only the beginning. Advertiser Perceptions states that 75% of advertisers are currently placing targeted and addressable ads, with 54% of them planning to increase their spending in the next 12 months. Furthermore, emerging media is providing advertisers more opportunities to reach consumers.
From Desktop to Device: How to Make Your Content More Mobile
We are on the go. Who sits in front of a computer to read articles anymore? We have a mobile device for that, and whether we are killing some time in the checkout line or searching for specific information on the couch, we are most likely using our phone. Content is only growing because we have more opportunities to read it. Why not make it meaningful?
To create content that will work on both mobile devices and those archaic things we call computers, you need to identify how your content will be applied. Will your content be used to inform? Give direction? Entice someone to buy?
How can businesses ensure their content isn’t lost in translation from desktop to device?
First, make sure your content loads quickly and is clutter-free. Sometimes, this isn’t in your control if there is shoddy Wi-Fi or an outdated device, but pop-ups, overbearing images, and bad formatting will cause your reader to move on...to the next business.
Your website and blog should be responsive if you want it to stay consistent, meaning it will work on any device, whether a phone, tablet, or computer, and doesn’t require a secondary URL that will need double the upkeep. A responsive website is specifically designed to scale into various screen sizes and resolutions. Because of this, your website maintains the same look and feel, and visiting your mobile site is the same experience for each user, each time, creating brand consistency and accuracy.
Will your content be different than what you have on your regular website?
Sometimes, but not always, it should be different, such as if your target is in your store where they can find a coupon on their phone that may not have popped up at home (that has to do with geo-targeting and an entirely new blog post). If we are talking about blogs, then your content should stay the same, but should it look the same? So many questions.
If you need different content on your mobile site, or your target will be searching for various terms when using a mobile device, there are effective ways to do this, such as adding a mobile URL if you need to.
What about animation and video?
If your blog, website, article, or newsletter has flash components, and you want people to read it on a mobile device, you should seriously consider whether this technology is worth it. Flash animation, video, and navigation content do not mesh well at all with mobile devices and can take away from the user’s experience and your exposure.
That being said, you don’t have to get rid of video completely. Just make it more mobile-friendly. Video is growing in popularity because it creates a more personal connection between customers and businesses. Since Flash is sometimes out of the picture, video can be viewed easier on small mobile screens, resizing automatically to fit any device, with website developer tricks. You can also link your content to YouTube if you like.
Think about the user experience
Lastly, think about your user and design your mobile page for touch screens. This means links and buttons should be big enough to tap with a finger. Make sure the button has an indent or is highlighted when it is touched so that the person knows the link is loading. Phone numbers should be click-to-call, and reorganize your drop-down menus so that they are easy to understand.
Your mobile site is no longer just an extension of your website. It is an equal partner when promoting your business. Give it some love, and your customers will love you for it.